What’s Your Avianca Refund Status? Hard To Tell In This Dumpster Fire
Tracking your Avianca refund status and actually getting your money back is a total dumpster fire. It’s beyond annoying to the point where it’s either laughable or intentionally backhanded at this point. I’m sure I’m not the only one having issues with Avianca hoarding my money for a long time. If you’re not in this situation, let this serve as a caution to you.
Why Avianca Owes Me Money
“Flights were canceled” is the obvious answer to why Avianca owes me money. Unfortunately, there are 3 separate instances for why they need to refund me at this point. I’ll refer to them as A, B & C, to make it simple.
A-May of 2020, we booked a crazy fare for $200 round-trip between Brazil and NYC, flying via Bogota. These were economy flights my wife and I booked together on Avianca metal. The flights were for early 2021. During the time of booking, they overcharged us when converting from Colombian pesos to US dollars. They overcharged to the tune of $926 between the 2 of us.
B-December of 2020, we canceled a LifeMiles award booking (Avianca’s loyalty/miles program). We got the miles refunded in 7 days but needed a refund of fees/taxes for $351.
C-January of 2021, the flights from A were later canceled by Avianca. Colombia prohibited flights from/to Brazil. Thus, the $926 from A doesn’t cover this new refund request of the original, correct fare: $200 per person.
In total, that’s $1,677 dollars.
Because Avianca made us fill out multiple refund request forms, we have 1 form for A, 1 form for B, and 4 forms for C (my outbound, my return, my wife’s outbound, my wife’s return).
Strap in as Avianca takes us into the Twilight Zone while trying to find an updated refund status and get my money.
Avianca’s Customer Service Is Non-Existent
After realizing that Avianca charged the wrong price in A, I contacted their Twitter customer service team. After telling me they created a case for me, they completely passed the buck. They stopped replying to me, even just trying to ask, “Hi, is there an update? Thanks.” I guess they assumed their work was done.
After multiple attempts and spending a cumulative 7 hours on chat & phone calls, I was repeatedly told that these cases can only be handled by email. More than a month later, I got the email address for my case manager. She never replies to my emails. Once a month since June of last year, she sends me an automated email thanking me for my patience as they work through a lot of refund requests. They absolutely refuse to commit to a timeframe for the refund.
In September, I filed a complaint with American Express. They investigated, and Avianca told them they’d refunded me. Total lie. I proved it to American Express, and they’re now fighting with each other. However, American Express has tentatively credited my account for the $926. They warned me that this could change, depending on documents Avianca may produce in the case.
I also filed a Department of Transportation complaint in the US and Consumer Defense complaint in Brazil, since the flights involved those 2 countries. Avianca provided an automated response to both that was a copy/paste of the automated email I get every month. Neither complaint was worth the time I spent writing it, clearly.
For laughs, this is the refund status of our request from May last year. “Received.” No action taken, such as processed, paid, analyzed…nothing.
Result for A=Avianca lies, but Amex is helping me out.
What about refund B? Last week, I sent a public tweet to Avianca and their customer service asking why it takes so long to get a refund. A few consumer complaint organizations and passenger rights groups retweeted it, and Avianca sent me a private message asking for my refund request numbers.
While they’ve never replied to me after I sent the info, there is a pending refund on my credit card for the value of refund request B. The Avianca refund status website says “pending to authorize” on that reference number. An award booking (flights on their own metal) canceled in January gave me a refund of the cash portion in 2 months. No communication or updates, but at least I’m getting the money.
Result for B=no communication, but the money is en route.
Avianca canceled our flights for C. Instead of leaving them as ‘open tickets’, we wanted our money back. Colombia’s government prohibited flights from/to Brazil, and our flights were Brazil to NYC via Colombia, so that impacted us. We have no idea when/if we’d fly Avianca again and have no desire to let them sit on more of our money after the fiasco with A above.
Within 2 hours of the cancelation notice, I filled out the separate requests for each flight sector (why is this necessary??). The annoying part is that they allocated my whole cost onto the outbound flight (request 1) and $0 on request 2. The same for my wife.
Guess which refund tracking number says “finished” and which one has no updates?
Again, no communication on this at all, despite trying to get info via chat or the tweets mentioned in B. If it keeps dragging out, I’ll engage Amex again to tell them there’s a new development.
Result for C=no communication, no idea what’s happening.
At first glance, it looks great to have a website to track your Avianca refund status. However, if they don’t do anything with it or update it, let alone not communicate with you, the website is essentially pointless. Trying to deal with Avianca has been a complete dumpster fire.
They sent me an automated email as an update to my DOT complaint. They never replied at all to my complaint via the Brazilian Consumer Defense agency. I get an automated email every month but no actual human engagement. This while they send pre-formulated emails to thank me for my patience, which is ironic since I have no patience with them at this point.
If you’re thinking about booking something with Avianca, consider how much money you’ll be floating and how long you’re willing to wait for a refund if things go South. They’ve had a bad past year, and I’m not personally willing to float them any money until I get every cent back that they currently owe me.